Tablets often have very modest performance, good just for mundane things like web surfing and email sending. There is nothing wrong with those devices – as people want basic laptops, they also want basic tablets. But performance seeking users are not happy with these low end tablets. They want something faster. Perhaps Microsoft Surface 3 7G6-00001, a 10 inches tablet with quad-core Intel Atom processor and 128GB flash storage? We’ll see about that below…
Microsoft Surface 3 7G6-00001 runs on the Intel Atom x7-Z8700 processor. It’s a quad core CPU featuring 1.6GHz clock speed that increases up to 2.4GHz with Intel Burst technology. As this is one of the first tablets running on that processor, not many benchmarks are available yet.
However, there are some clues as to what this processor (and the whole system) is capable of: the operating system is full version Windows 8.1 (64-bit). So you can install your favorite Windows programs on this device – including games. This suggests the processor will work nicely with common software, such as web browsers, email clients and Skype at least.
Other important components that have effect on performance are the 4GB RAM and 128GB SSD. Decent specs, but the RAM is soldered on board so it can’t be upgraded. The drive is replaceable, so if you have the skills, you are able to swap it for a bigger one.
Screen and gaming
Microsoft Surface 3 has a 10.1″ screen featuring the sweet 1920×1080 resolution. Obviously, it’s a touch display and many people like to use it with a pen (not included, sold separately). People were commenting the screen has good quality. I believe them, so you’ll probably find the display decent, too.
There’s a Intel HD Graphics engine integrated in the processor. It’s rumored to be better than previous HD models. But the fact that it’s integrated and rather slow remains. Most games are too much for it, but very lightweight titles like League of Legends or older Steam-based ones should be playable on low details.
The tablet has one USB 3.0 port (plus microUSB for charging), so choose your peripheral carefully. The Mini DisplayPort can be used to connect a PC monitor, although HDMI output is not available.
Microsoft Surface 3 7G6-00001 is not a laptop, it has no optical drive. You can buy an external DVD drive if you want to play with discs. The built-in microSD card reader can also be used. And downloading files from Internet works, too.
Speaking about networking, the tablet has an excellent 802.11 AC WiFi + Bluetooth 4.0 for accessing Internet. There is no dedicated RJ-45 port, but you can always use a cheap USB-Ethernet adapter for cabled connection.
Two cameras are installed on Microsoft Surface 3 7G6-00001: a 3.5MP one in the front and 8.0MP one in the back. The latter supports autofocus. Thus, taking sharp photos and chatting on Skype video works on this tablet.
What else to keep in mind?
Microsoft Surface 3 7G6-00001 is a lightweight device, weighing just 1.37 pounds. It runs silent and has a fanless design. The battery is advertised as lasting 10 hours, people reported getting ~8 hours. Charging it full takes closer to 3 hours. It’s not soldered so replacing the battery is possible, although I read it requires a lot of tinkering.
The tablet can be enhanced with keyboard and pen. You must purchase them separately, they are not included in the package.
Microsoft Surface 3 7G6-00001 looks promising. It has adequate performance for everyday computing, although very heavy programs and games would be too much for the low-end Atom x7-Z8700 processor. Best things are the screen (Full HD, good quality) and portability (1.4 pounds, closer to 10 hours battery life). If you think a conventional laptop is too big for your needs, this kind of small yet useful tablet might be ideal. As said above, you can get a pen and keyboard and turn the device into an impromptu notebook when you want to. A neat feature, indeed!